Prostate cancer screening in Primary Health Care: the current state of affairs

Springerplus. 2015 Feb 13;4(1):78. doi: 10.1186/s40064-015-0819-8. eCollection 2015.


This study aims to examine the current practice of General practitioners (GPs)/primary care physicians in opportunistic screening for prostate cancer (PC) by digital rectal examination(DRE) and Prostate Specific Antigen(PSA) testing and identify any difference in screening practice. Printed copies and/or electronic versions of a survey was distributed amongst 438 GPs throughout Australia in 2012. Statistical analyses (Wilcoxon rank-sum test, Fisher's exact test or Pearson chi-square test)were performed by outcomes and GP characteristics.There were a total of 149 responses received (34%), with similar gender distribution in rural and metropolitan settings. 74% GPs believed PSA testing was at least 'somewhat effective' in reducing PC mortality with annual PSA screening being conducted by more GPs in the metropolitan setting compared to the rural GPs (35% vs 18.4%), while 25% of rural GPs would not advocate routine PSA screening. When examining the concordance between DRE and PSA testing by gender of GP, the male GPs reported performing PSA testing more frequently than DRE in patients between ages 40 to 69 (p = 0.011). Urology Society guidelines (77.2%) and College of GPs (73.2%) recommendations for PC screening were thought to be at least 'somewhat useful'. Although reference ranges for PSA tests were felt to be useful, the majority (65.8%) found it easier to refer to an urologist due to the disagreements in guidelines. In conclusion, the current guidelines for PSA screening appear to cause more confusion due to their conflicting advice, leaving GPs to formulate their own practice methods, calling for an urgent need for uniform collaborative guidelines.